::As the title graphic fades and the lights come up to show a stoic Vulcan sitting in a chair looking at the recorders. Beyond his chair the familiar small table sporting two coffee mugs and the chair of his guest.::
Sopek: Greetings to you my friends. It is time again for The Lower Decks. My guest today is the Chief Tactical & Security Officer on the USS Garuda, LtCmdr Leo Handley-Page. Good evening Commander.
Handley-Page: Good evening, old boy. Glad to be here.
Sopek: So, you’ve recently shifted to the Garuda. How can you compare it to the other ships you’ve served on?
Handley-Page: It’s certainly the biggest ship I have ever had the pleasure to serve on. We’re just heading out on our first mission. I have served with one or two of the crew before, but it’s good to meet new faces as well as familiar ones.
Sopek: I understand you have held a few positions within the ranks of the crew.
Handley-Page: I was privileged to have been First Officer when my previous ship, the USS Vigilant, was launched in 2389. I then became Strategic Operations Officer, Byzallian Liaison and Major of Marines before my recent transfer.
Sopek: What did you, in your position as the Strategic Operations Officer do?
Handley-Page: That is a good question. Basically, the role combines areas of Tactical, Security and a bit of Operations too. With such a good Chief Tactical & Security Officer on the Vigilant already in the imposing form of LtCmdr Eerie, I had taken the SOO dept in a more off-ship context, working with other departments to ensure the safety of the ship from hostile threats.
Sopek: You also led the Marine contingent on the Vigilant. What can you tell us about the Marines in your squad. What set them apart?
Handley-Page: I really enjoyed leading the marines, and I miss it very much. Being head of the marines fitted perfectly with my role of SOO. I also liked to think I was the bridge between the marines, and the ship’s security teams. My team of marines was second to none. They were fierce, determined, skilled and very brave. They were also all ladies, which is unusual but most welcome in our modern starship. Each and every one of them would be a credit to any ship in the Fleet. Knowing they have things under control allows me to take some time off, now and again.
Sopek: What about your pastimes?
Handley-Page: Well, I have quite a few. I enjoy playing with all kinds of gadgetry and mechanical curiosities. I have a large stash of them in my quarters. I am also quite fond of fencing, Parrises squares, investigating mysteries and listening to Byzallian music – mostly solid state surge and chemical metal.
Sopek: You’ve served a variety of ships and had your fair share of missions. Could you share some of your most memorable?
Handley-Page: Well, my career has been long and varied – ups and downs aplenty. I do recall some crazy antics. One mission that I recall as being especially epic was on the USS Vigilant earlier this year, during Fleet Captain Herrera’s absence on Duronis. The crew, under Acting CO Greir Reinard, flew to the underwater city of the Asavii people, and helped them evacuate their crumbling biodome and make a new life among the stars. We had to deal with giant building-eating eels and treachorous locals, especially the firebrand religious zealot of the tribe – Ozryn Bram. He was eventually defeated by his own plans when the eels he was trying to control turned on him and his temple.
Sopek: A truly fascinating mission. Being first officer and then a leader of the Marine contingent, do you aspire to command?
Handley-Page: Yes, I would dearly love to command a ship of my own one day.. but the course of one’s career takes many twists and turns, not all of them planned. Who knows.. maybe one day.. but for now I am content to do my duty and serve with the Fleet.
Sopek: ::With a slight nod.:: Did have you find that being Byzallian Liaison in the Zeta Gelis region and the Menthar Corridor affected your balance of duties?
Handley-Page: It had been relatively easy, and in some cases very useful. During a recent mission at Deep Space Six, a group of Zalkonian terrorists tried to seize the station, and our quantum slipstream drive for good measure. The gun battles to retake the station were furious, and were balanced on a knife edge. Fortunately the station had a platoon of Byzallian troops stationed there, and I was able to point them in the right direction of the battle. As for juggling it with my other duties, it fitted in nicely with being head of the marine contingent. Both Byzallians and Marines were experienced in the art of warfare, so the two roles went hand in hand. I am hoping one day that the USS Garuda may visit Byzatium. I can then give my colleagues a guided tour of the planet, assuming the war there had died down a bit.
Sopek: Is it hard being raised in such a manner?
Handley-Page: Yes, very hard indeed. I actually spent the first ten years of my life with my Mum and adoptive Dad in great comfort on Earth. However, my biological father – Mons Vor – took me, against my will, to live with him on Byzatium. From age eleven onwards, I was thrust into the dark world of intrigue and courtly battles as my father tried to unseat the government. He failed, and I escaped after seven years with him. I have never returned. I guess I was luckier than most. My father’s high rank meant that I faced very little of the everyday hardships of Byzallian life – but Mons Vor wrath was even worse at times than a continent full of *Crazies* (what we called the mutants wandering the wastelands there).
Sopek: And you chose then to enlist in the academy?
Handley-Page: Yes, I needed some place to not only hide, but to use the skills my father had instilled in me. If I just took any job on a private ship I’d probably have been hunted down and captured. Star Fleet academy was probably the safest to be at that time. I thoroughly enjoyed it and focused my energies into the areas of science and engineering. It was only after my unexpected career interlude that my focus moved more towards tactical and marines.
Sopek: Which interlude led you to that path?
Handley-Page: I was trapped in amongst a colony full of Romulan rioters. My only means of escaping was letting my phaser overload, which sadly took some of my attackers with me. I got sent for a court martial, but was exonerated. Since then I realised that I actually had more skills in fighting than in science and gadgets, so I opted to swap.
Sopek: Can you tell us more about that?
Handley-Page: We were transported down to build an encampment to help the Romulan colonists on Bilire VI in the wake of the Hobus disaster. There was a plague sweeping through the colony, and some of the locals blamed the Star Fleet officers for introducing it. Some hotheads started a riot and attacked our encampment. We were heavily outnumbered and outgunned. I drew some of them away into the jungle, but was cornered in a clearing. My action in exploding the phaser was not my preferred option, but desperate times… anyway, I am still here and battling on.
Sopek: Very efficiently from your record Commander.
Handley-Page: One tries.
Sopek: Your mother and adopted father, did you have occasion reunite with them since your return?
Handley-Page: Yes, yes I do, probably not as often as I’d like.. but at least once a year, and more often on sub-space comms. Having been parted from them for nearly eight during my teens, it made me appreciate the time I do spend with them now. After escaping Byzatium and getting back to Earth (and Star Fleet), I spent a few months with them… reluctant to even leave the family home in Oxford.
Sopek: You’ve had an opportunity to get much out of your career and have seen so many places and people. Does the exploration aspect interest you?
Handley-Page: Yes, what drew me to Star Fleet was the opportunity to explore new worlds, and push the frontiers of the known galaxy. That’s what it is all about.
Sopek: Do you ever find yourself regretting choices made?
Sopek: Unfortunately Commander that answer also marks the end of our time together here on The Lower Decks its been a pleasure talking with you and I hope you have many more years of success before you.
Handley-Page: Thank you so much for this opportunity. It has been a pleasure.
Leo the Writer: I joined Starbase118 in November 2010, or should that be Stardate 2387.10? Either way, it was probably the best decision I have ever made.. seriously. Anyway, I guess you’re wondering what makes my SIM world tick? Writing has always been a passion of mine and my first taste of formal prose came when I started writing articles for my student union newspaper. Later in life I branched out into technical writing as a profession, but science-fiction and alternative history stories have always been my first true love (writing-wise anyway).